Ten classic films featuring the character of the gay best friend are featured on the Criterion Channel this June.
The Gay Best Friend can be helpful. The Gay Best Friend can be catty. They can be unconditionally loving or secretly sinister. Yet they all have something in common: we never learn very much about their lives, existing as they do to support, elucidate, or put into relief something about their films’ straight main characters. This persistent stereotype provides a lens through which we can understand queer film history and the legacies of characters who have been, almost by definition, marginalized.
In this latest edition of Queersighted, series curator Michael Koresky and his special guest, author Mark Harris (Mike Nichols: A Life), discuss a selection of titles stretching from Production Code–era Hollywood to the “out” nineties, featuring fascinating characters who may gaze from the sidelines but bring vivid life and depth to their films.
Easy Living, Mitchell Leisen, 1937
Adam’s Rib, George Cukor, 1949
The Strange One, Jack Garfein, 1957
A Taste of Honey, Tony Richardson, 1961
Rachel, Rachel, Paul Newman, 1968
Knightriders, George A. Romero, 1981
The Fisher King, Terry Gilliam, 1991
Single White Female, Barbet Schroeder, 1992
Six Degrees of Separation, Fred Schepisi, 1993
Irma Vep, Olivier Assayas, 1996